Part 1 of 2
Sourcing, attracting, assessing, hiring and retaining the absolute best people have never been more crucial to organizations. Technological innovation continues to disrupt industries on a massive scale with no signs of slowing down, and coupled with a global skills shortage predicted by 2020, particularly from university graduates, it is going to become increasingly important to change the way we attract and retain the next generation of talent.
Tomorrow’s talent demands a different type of candidate experience: graduates want to connect with real people, experience the authenticity of a brand, delve into company culture, all before they even consider applying. They pursue organizations that have similar beliefs and goals, seek greater fulfillment and work-life balance, and ultimately seek an organization in which they can grow. So how do we attract emerging talent?
Despite the variety of ways to engage with graduate talent (such as social media, online community groups and alumni networks), campus recruiting remains one of the most cost-effective ways to source and attract young and diverse top talent. It can deliver strategic benefits to organizations looking to manage their talent gaps, raise their profile as potential employers and also bring modern skills, enthusiasm and a fresh view of the world to an organization. 
Albeit campus events are a proven recruiting channel, the true pillars of success will be knowing how to manage, scale and make the most out of each event. In this post we will examine the first three of eight fundamental ways you can maximize your campus recruiting efforts:
1. Do Your Homework, Get to Know Your Audience
Described as digital natives, today’s students pose new challenges for recruiters to move beyond the traditional approaches. Avid mobile users, connected 24-7 and tech savvy, students are demanding more of a virtual recruiting experience. With everything at student’s fingertips, graduate recruiters need to think beyond the campus recruitment day, head online and go where students go. Think Facebook groups, alumni blogs, online discussion forums, Twitter, YouTube, subject societies pages, LinkedIn, with the purpose to discover what makes them tick, the channels they visit, the experiences they like to engage in, the language they use, all to gain valuable insight on how to communicate with them.
2. Build Relationships Before, During and After the Event
Todays’ best graduate talent is often over targeted by organizations, they are also savvy to marketing ploys and highly selective about where they want to work. Furthermore, they are extremely aware of the ‘disconnects’ between what a company says about their ‘employer brand’ and what they see externally. In search of authenticity and real people to talk to, the only significant way to build relationships with graduates is through early and ongoing engagement that is not limited to setting up a booth at a careers fair.
Before the event:
Build your student database/talent pool before arriving to the career fair by leveraging social networks and developing relationships with schools, universities and alumni networks. Rather than solely using event-marketing tactics to attract graduates to your stand on the day of the event, you can create custom invites, event reminders or send additional information to students with links to registration pages or dedicated career pages to help spark their interest. This type of early engagement ensures graduates will seek you out on the day of the event, creating a steady flow of student interest.
Following the event:
As with all engagement activities, it’s important to follow up. From a simple thank you email expressing your gratitude, to great-to-meet-you notes with additional information; from brief surveys to find out what’s important, to answering any unanswered questions: it all opens the lines of communication, making it easy for graduates to get in touch with you.
During career fairs, you may well be focused on building your relationships with current graduates. However, maintaining periodic contact with students should be a key on-going engagement focus, which will help build your pipeline for the future.
Give current students the opportunity to really get to know your organization and become familiar with operations. Leverage what you have learnt about them and target your communications to their interests and desires. You could invite them to an industry-specific career fair, an organizational information day, online webinars, targeted job openings, send them articles and blogs that match their career preferences or link them with previous graduate hires with a similar career profile. Ultimately, make it easy for them to ask you questions and hopefully, they will place your company at the forefront of their minds come graduation day.
Realistically, not every graduate will choose your organization. For whatever reason, they may choose to go somewhere else. But does that mean engagement ends? Not at all; this is another great opportunity to build brand awareness, maintain and develop a relationship with employed graduates and learn about their career preferences over time. Invite them to specific talent pools where you can share custom content based on career choices, connect them with your current graduate employees and share the success stories. Who knows, six months, one year, or even three years down the road you may have the perfect career to offer, or they may be ready for a new experience. Either way, maintaining and building relationships is always good for business.
3. Career Sites, Microsites & Dedicated Landing Pages
The best and brightest students don’t hang around for long. So you need to be on your toes, to provide targeted information that’s going to make an impression quickly. As discussed above, knowing your audience is critical to making an impression. Only by understanding your target audience, can you deliver timely, relevant content dedicated to their area of interest. But how do you deliver that juicy content?
Career sites are almost always a first port of call for graduates. They provide a window into what it’s like to work at your organization, the culture, available job openings and more. They deliver a golden opportunity to leverage your employer brand, inspire graduates, and make a positive first impression. Similar to your product website, your career site is your sales and marketing tool to sell your company to potential employees.
While career sites offer broader information around culture and careers, when making the most out of campus recruiting events you should also consider leveraging microsites to deliver more targeted content. Career sites are all-singing, all-dancing hubs of information; microsites are a smaller, more focused set of pages that can provide targeted content, images and videos for unique audiences, for example:
a) Career-focused information for the business areas you are targeting, e.g. IT, HR, Marketing
b) Further details on internships or graduate programs
c) A full list of events that graduates can register for
d) University/school bespoke content
e) Graduate career case study videos and testimonials
A further option to maximize your impact at events is to harness dedicated landing pages. They provide the opportunity to quickly and easily deploy fully branded, mobile-optimized pages to deliver relevant content to any segment.
They are particularly useful to promote events, manage registrations and stimulate participation and feedback. If you’re overwhelmed by students at your booth, you could hand out printed cards with a web address that they could access easily via a mobile device to register their interest. Perhaps, after an event you could send a follow-up email with a link to a landing page that requests students to provide additional information about their career choices at their convenience.
The idea here is not to prioritize one option over the other, but plan a communication strategy that harnesses all three. That way you can deliver a whole range of information in bite-sized chunks that’s easy to consume, fit for purpose and audience, and ensures you deliver an excellent candidate experience.
Campus Recruiting To Be Continued…
In Part 1 we discussed that despite the multitude of ways to engage with graduates, campus events remain one of the most effective recruiting channels. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that campus recruitment doesn’t start and end on campus. The actual event may very well be the pinnacle moment, but the real opportunity lies within how well you understand your audience, how well you communicate and engage with them before, during and after the event, and the technology you leverage in order to deliver targeted and timely content.
Come back next week and take your campus recruiting to the next level as we examine how to truly go paperless at events, the tricks to writing inspiring job descriptions for the modern day graduate, the right tools and technologies to bring your recruiters and hiring managers closer together, and much more.